Bedford Hostel
Years of Operation1971 - Remains open in 2010
Role Of FacilityWhen it first opened, Bedford House was managed on behalf of the Department of Native Welfare by the Edwards Business College, and its residents were young women from Indigenous backgrounds attending the business college.
In later years, the facility offered residential child care for school children in a hostel setting.
By 1985, Bedford’s main role was to provide short term emergency accommodation – in particular, for those children involved in the juvenile justice court process.
In 1994, Bedford was the Crisis Assessment Centre for the McCall/Community Support Hostel Network, providing assessment services to 8-16 year olds for up to four weeks. (Out of Home, Preventative and Alternative Care Services Review, “Terms of Reference”, Family and Children’s Services, 1995).
Sponsoring AgencyDepartmental - predessor to the current Department for Child Protection/ Edwards Business College (for a brief period)
Address(es)The original address was Lot 38, Grand Promenade Bedford - 79 Grand Promenade, Bedford. The current Emergency Accommodation Service operates from 79 Grand Promenade, Bedford.
AliasesBedford House; Bedford Park Hostel
Brief HistoryBrief History Education and employment hostels were operated by or in association with the Native Welfare Department mostly from the mid to late 1960s and early 1970s but came under the administration of the Community Welfare Department from 1972. For notes on a general history of these facilities prior to 1972, see the section on Hostels at the beginning of Signposts.

The following information, collected in 1971 for the Department of Native Welfare, was drawn from Wilson and Robinson (1971) Aboriginal Hostels in Perth: A Comparative Survey:

An existing house at Lot 38 Grand Promenade Bedford was purchased by the Department of Native Welfare on 23 June 1970 and architectural renovations were undertaken by the Public Works Department subsequent to that time. “The house mother and first groups of residents moved in somewhere around the commencing date of the 1971 school term (no one is quite sure of the dates here).” The garden was dead when they moved in, and the house had not been cleaned….
“The house mother has no relief, and no domestic assistance. She does all the cooking and domestic washing. Although her room had a built in cupboard there was no desk or dressing table. The residents rooms had no cupboards, dressing tables or desks.
There was only one small bathroom, with its only ventilation being a window onto an enclosed verandah on which two girls were sleeping. At the end of this verandah was an extra shower recess and the only WC for the entire building.
There is only one room which serves the house mother and residents as dining room, TV room, living room, and it is directly next to the house mother’s room. When she wanted to write letters, or ‘have some peace and quiet’, she retired to an old shed at the back of the garden, and used a kitchen chair and two packing cases as desk and chair.
When the TV broke down, the hostel was ‘lent’ a stereogram designed for another hostel, until the other hostel should be ready for occupation.
Although the house mother attempted to revive the garden, she pointed out that she had no tools, that the hose did not reach across the entire garden and that she had asked for assistance, and been told not to bother too much about the garden. Local residents had told her how this place had been the pride of the street, but was so no longer.
The hostel residents pay board to the [Edwards Business College] Principal….”
“The hostel at Bedford Park has been occupied by several Edwards Business College students since the commencement of the 1971 academic year. The original aim of the organisation was to provide a central hostel for Aboriginal girls attending the College (although it has, in the past, operated hostels for ‘white’ children, it felt it desirable to segregate Aboriginal students for reasons not made quite explicit to us). On this basis, the College would have the final say in day-to-day administration and overall policy, whilst the Department’s role was envisaged as supportive. For several reasons, these aims are not being fulfilled and there is a possibility that the College will withdraw from the scheme entirely.
Edwards Business College is then quoted as saying: ‘There are too many others involved. Nobody knows who is in control; the Native Welfare, Child Welfare, etcetera, etcetera. We cannot supervise the girls as we had hoped. There are just too many people involved. This introduces problems of running, especially with the girls’ behaviour. We tell them to do one thing and they say “the Department says we don’t have to.” I wonder who I am working for…The Department should leave the running entirely to Edwards…Hostels should be one or the other. We now feel that Bedford Park is not worth continuing with. We have no say in placement – we initially thought it would be left to us and we would place all the girls, and we were prepared to lose if we thought the girls were benefiting from a hostel environment.’

The WELSTAT (welfare statistics) Collection of 1979 notes Bedford Park Hostel as a ‘scattered group home’ (ie. “a family group home whose grounds do not adjoin those of another family group home, or other residential child care establishment, operated by the same enterprise.”).

The Bedford Park Hostel became one of a new breed of services in the 1980s. In May 1983, the Walcott Centre was divided into two units – Andrew House and Cawley. In September 1983, Bridgewater amalgamated with the Walcott System to form a new system of residential care and community support. In January 1984, the decentralisation was completed with Cawley moving to the Bedford Park Hostel. The new system was named the Community Support Hostels, and Bridgewater became its Administration Centre. The Community Support Hostels comprised Darlington Cottage, Oceanview, Stuart House, Tudor Lodge, Warralea Hostel, Kyewong Hostel, Medina Hostel, Warminda and the Bedford Park Hostel [see individual entries]. The role of the Community Support Hostels was to “provide skilled care for children for whom a more normal setting, such as an emergency foster home, is not available.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 1984).

The Beford Park Hostel was closed during the 1983/84 year (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 1984) but, as indicated below, it did re-open.

By 1985, the Annual Report indicated there were seven Community Support Hostels in the Perth metropolitan area, and their individual roles and goals were “varied, complex and often quite different in nature.” However, the “basic aim” of the Community Support Hostel system was to “identify and understand problems being experienced [by the children admitted to them], then to provide support and direction towards re-establishing routine involvement in community activities.” At the same time, the hostel staff emphasised “behavioural stabilisation and training to increase the chances of success in activities involvement and subsequent placements.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, 1985).

In 1985, the Bedford Hostel had 361 admissions (65% of the total admissions to the Community Support Hostel program). At this stage, Bedford’s main function was to provide “short term emergency accommodation particularly for children involved in the juvenile justice court process. Over 90% of children admitted to Bedford were referred by the police, the Courts or from the Department’s secure institutions.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, 1985).

In its Submission to the Residential Planning Review Taskforce in 1987, the Department described the operation of the Community Support Hostels: “The Department’s seven Community Support Hostels are all metropolitan-based, providing accommodation at each hostel for up to 8 children, of ages 6 to 17 years. Caregivers work rotating shifts; they do not live-in. At least one officer is on duty at all hours with additional staff member at busy times. Community Support Hostels provide short term accommodation for children whose behaviour and family situation is such that they are unable to remain in their usual residential setting for the present.” (Submission of the Department for Community Services to the Residential Planning Review Taskforce, March 31st 1987.)

In 1987, it was also reported that “children on arrest or remand who cannot return home” were also admitted to Community Support Hostels. (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, 1987).
The Bedford Hostel was housed at Innaminka House in Greenmount during renovations at one stage.
Now (in 2010) provides Emergency Accommodation on behalf of the Department for Child Protection.
RecordsDepartmental records for children placed by the Department of Community Welfare or the Department of Native Welfare may exist. Of particular interest, if able to be located, are the Department of Native Welfare “Resident Details Information Sheet (1) Hostel and Private Board Placement ” and “Resident Details Information Sheet (2) Hostel and Private Board Placement”.
Additionally, the Department for Child Protection’s Aboriginal Index and the guide, “Looking West”, should be consulted for information.
AccessWhile access to records is restricted to protect the privacy of individuals, people are encouraged to enquire.
Contact DetailsFreedom of Information
Department of Communities
Locked Bag 5000, Fremantle WA 6959
Telephone: (08) 6217 6888
Country free call: 1800 176 888